Zoom September 2012
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
The adornment of human lips with cosmetics has been a worldwide practice since antiquity, but lipstick in the modern sense—a solid substance nestled in a tube—didn’t appear until 1915. Maurice Levy of the Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury, CT invented the now-ubiquitous tube with a dispensing action that year. And while past lip colorants included crushed gemstones, beetles and fish scales, modern manufacturers use more benign ingredients. Today’s lipstick is generally 5-15 percent pigment (a variety of organic and inorganic dyes) dispersed in a mixture of 20-30 percent wax (beeswax, carnauba, candelilla or ozokerite) and 50-70 percent oil (castor, mineral or petroleum jelly). The oil is heated and the wax is melted, separately, and then combined. Milled pigment is added and the mass is mixed until homogenous. The newly formed lipstick is allowed to cool briefly before it is poured into a mold and solidified. Flame is applied to give the lipstick a glossy shine, and then it is inserted into a metal or plastic tube. The most expensive lipstick currently available is Guerlain Paris KissKiss Gold and Diamonds. The lipstick comes in 15 shades with the option of a custom color. The tube is made of 18k gold and gilded with 199 diamonds. Cost: $62,000.